In Uganda, gay people are being forced into exile. If a new bill becomes law, homosexuality will be punishable by death – which means many people are choosing to leave and seek asylum elsewhere. With the vote on the country’s anti-homosexuality bill set to become public in the coming days, photographer Mathias Christensen met gay people in Uganda who fear the changing of the law.
by Rasmus Thirup Beck
“Five police officers force three young men out of their one-room slum dwelling in Kampala, with no explanation. As they are dragged down the slum’s main shopping street, their neighbours’ hateful shouts make their “crime” all too clear: “Beat those gays up!” “Kill those monsters!” “Give them what they deserve!”
Threats were also issued – threats they had heard before:
“We’ll burn down your house!”
After two days in a small, dirty prison cell they are released. Now they’ve gone underground, and hope to gain asylum in another country.
“We don’t dare to live here any more. We have felt unsafe for a long time and it only gets worse. It’s all the talk about that law that agitates people. If it is passed I am sure they will burn down the house,” says one, a 23-year-old transsexual who prefers to be called “Bad Black” for safety reasons.
The law he refers to is the so-called “Kill the Gays” bill, which is set to become reality in Uganda within days. It is already illegal to commit a homosexual act in the country, but a unified parliament now supports a tightening of the law, which, among other things, will make it punishable by death to be a “serial offender”.
The parliamentarian behind the bill is David Bahati. He describes homosexuality as an evil that has to be fought. He also says that he and his peers “do not hate the homosexuals but the sin in them”.
Bahati’s reference to sin reveals the direct connection between Uganda’s politicians and a group of very influential pastors. One of these pastors is Moses Solomon Male, who travels the country presenting his talk, Understanding the Challenges of Homosexuality (Sodomy).
“Those homosexuals … They call it anal sex. It ruins the anus. And they say they enjoy it,” said Male in a recent speech to Sunday-school pupils in a Kampala suburb. He also described the cornerstone of both the pastors’ and the politicians’ argument against homosexuals: That they are “recruiting” innocents to their side – especially children.
LGBT rights advocates are doing their best to challenge these views – and the bill. One of these, transsexual activist Pepe Julian Onziema, has courageously come out with his message as well as his sexuality. Homosexuality is not something you become, it is something you are, he stresses.
“The only thing we can do is to try to inform as many people as possible about how we’re human beings just like them – just with different sexual preferences,” he explains.”
All photographs taken by Mathias Christensen.
Posts tagged politics.
Idle No More sweeps Canada & beyond as aboriginals say enough is enough
December 23, 2012
The second wave of Idle No More protests swept across Canada on Friday December 21, with support events held across the U.S. and as far away as Europe and New Zealand, less than two weeks after the movement burst onto the political scene on December 10.
Indigenous activists used social media websites to organize round dances, highway blockades, protests and ceremonies from east to west of the country, as Attawapiskat First Nation Chief Theresa Spence entered her 10th day of a hunger strike that she has vowed to see through to the end.
Thousands of people turned out for social media-organized flash mobs—seemingly spontaneous assemblies in malls and other public places—in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and beyond, and rallies criticized not only the federal omnibus budget bill C-45, which passed into law this week, but also the wider living and rights conditions that aboriginal peoples are subject to.
Ryerson University Indigenous Governance professor Pamela Palmater, Mik’maq, attended the 4,000-person rally on Parliament Hill, the largest of the Idle No More events.
“Being in Ottawa at the rally, amongst thousands of our brothers and sisters from indigenous nations all over Canada, dancing, singing and drumming was a spirit-filling moment for me,” she told Indian Country Today Media Network. “You could feel the pride in our peoples standing shoulder to shoulder to protect our future generations. The energy was palpable and you could feel that our ancestors walked with us. The wind blowing through our Nations’ many flags was symbolic of our collective strength. Despite the cold, snow and wind, the spirit that has been relit in our peoples has enough heat to keep us in this grassroots movement for the long haul.”
The mood was equally ebullient in Vancouver.
“Today my heart is full, because the shift is happening,” said Nuxalk and Six Nations artist Jerilynn Snuxyaltwa Webster, who raps under the name JB the First Lady. “Our people—our beautiful, indigenous people—are rising. I’m sick of colonization telling us that we are criminals, telling us that we’re no good, telling us that we don’t deserve what is ours. Stephen Harper: We’re coming together. It’s not just a flash mob. If our lady, Theresa Spence, passes away, we’re showing the entire country what kind of power we have.”
Webster added that the Idle No More phenomenon is not merely aimed at a particular piece of legislation or even just the government.
“This movement, this uprising, is not for the Canadian government to talk with us,” she told a crowd gathered in Vancouver, B.C. “It’s for us to come together to build unity, no matter what color the skin is, what your blood quantum is, what nation you come from, if you’re treaty or non-treaty, status or non-status, Métis or Inuit. Those are the boxes they put us in—they try to divide and conquer us, but they haven’t. We overcame acts of genocide; we are still here.”
Winnipeg, Manitoba, broadcaster and Anishnaabe musician Wab Kinew told Indian Country Today Media Network that Idle No More has grown from a reaction to Bill C-45, to a broader movement.
“Idle No More is definitely about indigenous rights, culture and sovereignty,” he said. “But the ideals that underlie it are ones that matter to all Canadians—they’re about rights, freedom, the environment, preserving a positive environment for our children.”
And while C-45—a sprawling piece of legislation that reduces the number of referendum votes needed to give up reserve lands for development, and that critics say guts waterways protection—may have sparked the protests, it has unmasked a much deeper dissatisfaction.
“There are so many tensions and issues in the aboriginal community, the indigenous community,” Kinew said. “Missing and murdered women, poor health outcomes, poor education, poverty, social issues, racism, and on and on and on. Bill C-45 was the match, but it landed on a tinderbox or powder keg. Now you’re seeing all these other issues come to the surface.”
The National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations welcomed the growing movement.
“The Idle No More effort is growing like wildfire across the country,” National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo told ICTMN. “It’s really a grassroots effort. It’s First Nations and Canadians standing up, stepping forward, and saying that what’s happening in this country—overstepping aboriginal title and rights, treaty rights, basic human rights, and the right to life and dignity, this pattern of mistreatment of First Nations—has to end.”
Mohawk political analyst Russell Diabo said that Idle No More has indeed tapped into a wellspring of discontent.
“Instinctively, they know what’s wrong with what the Harper government’s doing—pushing this suite of legislation—and they’re reacting to it,” he told ICTMN. He added that he hoped aboriginals would use this momentum to educate themselves in depth about the issues they were protesting.
“There are certainly many more bills than C-45 that are amending the Indian Act and going to have an impact on aboriginal treaty rights for First Nations across Canada,” he said. “They need to be more articulate about how it really impacts them.”
Diabo, a policy advisor for several First Nations as well as editor and publisher of the newsletter First Nations Strategic Bulletin, warned that pending Indian Act amendments could lead to the “termination” of aboriginal title and rights by getting aboriginals to sign those rights away in negotiations with government. Rights would be further eroded by the introduction of individual, fee-simple land ownership on reservations.
“They’re still using the Indian Act as the main statute to control and manage Indians with these new amendments, but also they have policy initiatives,” Diabo explained. “Basically their policies are one-sided polices that the federal government has drafted to interpret Section 35 of Canada’s constitution about what’s on the table and what’s not on the table. They want to extinguish aboriginal title through these modern treaties.”
Guns don’t attack children; psychopaths and sadists do. But guns uniquely allow a psychopath to wreak death and devastation on such a large scale so quickly and easily. America is the only country in which this happens again — and again and again.
Why does a tragedy like 9/11 change everything about air travel, but numerous gun massacres CHANGE NOTHING?
If roads were collapsing all across the United States, killing dozens of drivers, we would surely see that as a moment to talk about what we could do to keep roads from collapsing. If terrorists were detonating bombs in port after port, you can be sure Congress would be working to upgrade the nation’s security measures. If a plague was ripping through communities, public-health officials would be working feverishly to contain it.
Only with gun violence do we respond to repeated tragedies by saying that mourning is acceptable but discussing how to prevent more tragedies is not. But that’s unacceptable.
Not even kindergarteners learning their A,B,Cs are safe. We heard after Columbine that it was too soon to talk about gun laws. We heard it after Virginia Tech. After Tucson and Aurora and Oak Creek. And now we are hearing it again. For every day we wait, 34 more people are murdered with guns. Today, many of them were five-year olds. President Obama rightly sent his heartfelt condolences to the families in Newtown. But the country needs him to send a bill to Congress to fix this problem. Calling for ‘meaningful action’ is not enough. We need immediate action.
The United Nations has voted overwhelmingly to recognize a Palestinian state. In an extraordinary lineup of international support, more than two-thirds of the world body’s 193 member states approved the resolution upgrading the Palestinians’ status from an observer to a nonmember observer state on Thursday. It passed 138-9, with 41 abstentions. The vote was a victory decades in the making for the Palestinians after years of occupation and war. It was a sharp rebuke for Israel and the United States.
[Read more: Theguardian.co.uk]